Today, at the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference (EMBC) in Buenos
Aires (Argentina), imec
and its project partners announce the launch of the European Seventh Framework
Project MIRACLE. The MIRACLE project aims at developing an operational lab-on-chip
for the isolation and detection of circulating and disseminated tumor cells
(CTCs and DTCs) in blood. The new lab-on-chip is an essential step towards faster
and cost-efficient diagnosis of cancer.
Detection of circulating and disseminated tumor cells in blood is a promising
methodology to diagnose cancer dissemination or to follow up cancer patients
during therapy. Today, the detection analyses of these cells are performed in
medical laboratories requiring labor intensive, expensive and time-consuming
sample processing and cell isolation steps. A full tumor cell detection analysis
can take more than a day. A lab-on-chip, integrating the many processing steps,
would enable a faster, easy-to-use, cost-effective detection of tumor cells
in blood. They are therefore labor-saving and minimally invasive, increasing
the patient’s comfort and the efficiency of today’s healthcare.
In a preceding joint project by some of the partners (MASCOT FP6-027652), individual
microfluidic modules for cell isolation, cell counting, DNA amplification and
detection have been developed. Based on this expertise and strengthened by additional
partners, the development of a fully automated, lab-on-chip platform to isolate,
count and genotype CTCs is envisaged within the framework of the MIRACLE project.
For genotyping, genetic material (i.e. the mRNA) will be extracted from the
cells and multiple cancer related markers will be amplified based on multiplex
ligation dependent probe amplification (MLPA) followed by their detection using
an array of electrochemical sensors. Full integration of all steps requires
innovative research and processing steps that need a combination of the multidisciplinary
and unique expertise of the different project partners (ranging from microfluidics
to interfacing, miniaturization, and integration skills). The resulting lab-on-chip
tumor detection system will be well ahead of the current state-of-the-art, revolutionizing
cancer diagnostics and individualized theranostics.
Within the framework of the MIRACLE project, imec as project coordinator, collaborates
with the Universitat Rovira I Virgili (Spain), the Institut für Mikrotechnik
Mainz, AdnaGen, ThinXXs and Consultech (Germany), MRC Holland (The Netherlands),
the Oslo University Hospital (Norway), the KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Multi-D and Fujirebio Diagnostics (Sweden), ECCO - the European CanCer Organisation
and ICsense (Belgium) and Labman (UK). The project aims at developing a fully
automated and integrated microsystem providing the genotype (gene expression
profile) of CTCs and DTCs starting from clinical samples. MIRACLE is partly
funded by the European Commission (FP7-ICT-2009.3.9).